SFN @ SXSW 2015: ‘iZombie’ breathes new life into undead genre [TV REVIEW]
Since the festival added the Episodic category at last year’s SXSW, I have been lucky enough to catch three great pilots in between films. Last year, it was Penny Dreadful and the excellent Silicon Valley pilots, both of which are now shows I watch on a weekly basis. This year I caught CW’s iZombie, a show that is loosely based off of the Vertigo comic books of the same name. With a stylish presentation and a new spin on an award-winning concept from Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, CW’s iZombie works for casual goers who are new to the material and for those are already initiated with Gwen (now Liv’s) world.
Recap and review:
Just to begin, the number of changes between the source material and the TV adaptation are so long it isn’t really worth comparing the two anymore. At this point it is essentially a loose adaptation. Our hero in the story is Liv, who at one point was engaged to her boyfriend Major and happily working toward being a doctor at a hospital. Unfortunately that plan gets side tracked when she goes out to a yacht party and the people there have designer drugs that transform them into infected creatures. To the majority of the world, the party was a huge accident and most everyone on the ship died. But Liv wakes up afterward to find that she is a zombie now. Spooky right?
To be honest, not at all. This show is less horror and more quirky police procedural. Solve the crime but with a twist — when Liv eats brains, she can see their memories through visions. So the show hinges on Liv eating brains to help expose criminals to help the police, all as part of her new job as a coroner.
The show takes the trendy feeling of Veronica Mars and merges it with some of the supernatural elements that one would find on Buffy or Supernatural. And it really works for the most part. While the pilot begins with sluggish exposition the show picks up as more and more of Liv’s powers are revealed. She eats brains with ramen and hot sauce, she is generally kind of lazy ever since the change and she chooses that morgue job because it makes for easy access to corpses for late night lobotomies.
Liv is a zombie with moral and ethical expectations for herself. Leaving her boyfriend out of fear for him she is a compassionate person who never wanted to hurt anyone, but now she is a zombie whether she wants to be or not. Rose McIver delivers a strong performance as Liv and her chemistry with Malcolm Goodwin’s Detective Babineaux and Rahul Kohli’s Dr. Ravi leads to some really good TV near the end of the first episode.
Smart, cute and actually rather unique in a genre that just won’t die, iZombie is another promising project from CW. With a fairly strong pilot, albeit weaker than Silicon Valley’s or Penny Dreadful’s, the show can only get better from here and it would appear SXSW has sold me on another TV show to tune in on.